Something New in the New Year

I was recently inspired by a TED talk by Matt Cutts who talks about doing something new for 30 days. Instead of making a traditional New Year’s resolution, I decided to embrace this idea for 2015.

My January activity was to cook something new every day. This has been a pretty easy task with which to start my endeavor.  I love to cook and frequently try new recipes or create my own.  One of my more memorable new recipes were these delectable  Orange-Scented Cake Donuts with Milky Earl Grey Glaze.

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This Honey Hefeweizen Boule from The Beeroness blog was wonderful. This blog is a treasure trove of amazing recipes that all include craft beer, which is a huge bonus in our family.

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Amelia gave me the Seriously Delish cookbook by How Sweet It Is blogger Jessica Merchant for Christmas.  It has been a bountiful source for yummy options including Thai chicken lettuce wraps, fig and prosciutto toasts, and a slightly altered version of shrimp and corn quesadillas.

Some days I’ve been inspired to create my own original recipes.  I think my favorite was a turkey pot pie that included roasted cranberries, butternut squash, and carrots with sauteed mushrooms topped with cheddar, chive mashed potatoes. An arugula, pear, and pomegranate salad with fig dressing was also a success.

On occasion the day has come and almost gone without having cooked something new.  So I’ve mixed up a new cocktail.  I called this a “Citrus Surprise”.  It had orange and grapefruit juice, and blood orange vodka….I think.

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This “boozy milkshake with toasted marshmallows” as Hannah referred to it was inspired by a cocktail she’d had in Philly.

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One day I really was pushing it and just made hot tea with steamed milk from the new espresso machine Amelia gave us for Christmas.  It was surprisingly comforting and yummy.

The last dinner of January was orange-ginger salmon packets with kale, sweet potato, broccoli, and oranges with a teriyaki type sauce.  They were beautiful and delicious.

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I’m making Buffalo Wing Popcorn again today for our Super Bowl spread tonight.

I’ve loved this “something new for 30 days” idea this month. We’ve definitely had more variety than we might have during a regular January and I truly enjoyed incorporating a new recipe into each day.

This month I am aiming to go somewhere new everyday.  This may be as exciting as going to Houston in a few weeks to run the Houston Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon with Mike and Amelia. However, some days my someplace new may simply involve popping into a new shop or driving down a different road as I make a small detour along my ordinary path.  I’m excited to see where this plan will lead me.

What do you think about the “try something new for 30 days idea”?  What would you like to try?

 

 

 

 

It Was a Week to Remember

Last week was full of surprises. It started off calmly with warm weather that allowed me to finish fall chores like raking leaves and planting bulbs.  I savored the gift of a few more warm(ish) mornings runs.

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The early morning light continued to be spell-binding.

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The evening skies were dramatic.

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And then on the day before Thanksgiving, the snow began.

001It continued until it had dropped a foot of really heavy snow- heavy enough to bend tree branches…and snap power lines.

As we did pre-Thanksgiving cooking on Wednesday evening, the lights flickered several times.  We momentarily froze and then relaxed when they stayed on.  But then the inevitable happened and they were out for good.  We had made a good dent in our cooking for the Thanksgiving menu so we happily whipped up a dinner of tacos and settled in for a game of “Cards Against Humanity”. Thinking of playing it instantly makes my cheeks hurt as I immediately associate the game with hilarity and laughing until I can’t breathe.

The first few hours after the power went out we contentedly ate dinner by candlelight and warmed up next to the fire.

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We went to bed cautiously optimistic that the power would be back by morning.  But, sadly, we woke up in a chilly house with no power.

I had signed Mike and I up for our first virtual run which was to take place Thanksgiving morning.  I had read about it at Run Salt Run on Wednesday and it sounded like a terrific idea. We had planned to do our own Thanksgiving morning run anyway so the idea of a virtual run was perfect. And…Mike LOVES pie!

This is the adorable bib number that Run Salt Run sent.

This is the adorable bib number that Run Salt Run sent.

But alas, when we woke up Thanksgiving morning and the power was still out and our long driveway was a foot deep in snow, we regretfully opted out of our pie run.

With my phone/life-line to civilization dead, I headed to our car to charge it and check-in with the world while I enjoyed a cup of tea.

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The news was not encouraging.  Power was out for more than 100,000 Maine electric customers.  My brother texted that his brother-in-law, who is an electrical company lineman, reported that it was one of the worst storms for outages.  This did not bode well for cooking the 21 pound turkey that was waiting to be popped into the oven.  We were expecting 10 of us for dinner so it was time to get creative.

The idea of not having a full Thanksgiving dinner was never an option.  My sister, Kate, who was with us for Thanksgiving, is a fabulous cook.  She had been the driving force behind our self-catering of Amelia’s wedding in June.  So we accepted the challenge and switched gears so we could continue our dinner preparations.

Thanks to our trusty camp stove we were able to keep cooking. After a lot of discussion, we decided our turkey was just too big to safely cook on the grill.  Katie went out for a few items and came back with turkey tenderloins to swap for the traditional turkey. She concocted a fabulous marinade and Annie turned canned turkey gravy into a gourmet delight.

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Annie and Leah weren’t thwarted by the challenge of cooking without power. (Note the hanging flashlight “spotlight”.)  Katie “baked” her  yeast rolls on the grill with spectacular results!

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When it came time to heat up everything that we had already prepared we were delighted to see how much the grill could hold and how wonderfully it worked as a mini oven. Mike manned the grill and masterfully grilled the turkey tenderloins to perfection.

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We weren't going to be intimidated by no running water for doing dishes, so we set our traditional Thanksgiving table.

We refused to budge from our long-standing tradition of a formal Thanksgiving table.  Beautiful job, Leah!

The dinner was great and we were proud we had risen to the challenges that the day presented but in the end the time together was the best part.

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An unexpected bonus to not having running water was that there was no question of anyone doing the dishes after dinner.  They were tucked away until the next day when the power returned.  I can say from personal experience that it is an actual pleasure to do dishes with the “luxury” of hot running water after two days of melting snow and heating water over the fire or on the camp stove.

Saturday morning things were back to normal so I enjoyed a run along our traditional loop route.  The snow made for some stunning scenes.

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Tuckaway Tree Farm

Tuckaway Tree Farm

On Sunday it was time to choose and cut our Christmas tree at Tuckaway Tree Farm after having run past them on our weekly runs all year.

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Hannah and Todd humored me and posed beside our tree before Todd gallantly crawled under the branches to saw it down.

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023Let the Christmas season begin!